In the tiny town of Edna, Texas, in 1951, field hand Pete Hernandez murdered tenant farmer Joe Espinosa after exchanging words in a gritty cantina. From this unremarkable small-town murder emerged a landmark civil rights case that would forever change the lives and legal standing of tens of millions of Americans. A Class Apart tells the little-known story of a band of underdog Mexican-American lawyers who took their case, Hernandez v. Texas, all the way to the Supreme Court, where they successfully challenged Jim Crow-style discrimination against Mexican-Americans.
In the landmark case, defense lawyers forged a daring legal strategy, arguing that Mexican-Americans were “a class apart” and did not neatly fit into a legal structure that recognized only blacks and whites. As legal skirmishes unfolded, the lawyers emerged as brilliant, dedicated, humorous and at times terribly flawed men. This film dramatically interweaves the story of its central characters — activists and lawyers, returning veterans and ordinary citizens, murderer, and victim — within the broader history of Latinos in America during a time of extraordinary change.
Join us for a special screening of this remarkable film as we celebrate the 55th anniversary of the first Supreme Court decision to guarantee civil rights for American Latinos.
A panel discussion will follow the film screening, featuring:
- Deborah Ramirez, Northeastern University School of Law
- Carlos Sandoval, Film Producer & Director
- Edward Schumacher-Matos, Harvard Kennedy School
- Charles Ogletree, Harvard Law School
The Boston Lawyer Chapter and the Harvard Law School Student Chapter of the American Constitution Society
American GI Forum of the United States
Equal Justice Society
Hispanic National Bar Foundation
Latino Public Broadcasting
Public Broadcasting System